Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bills Open Kitchen:Cookbook

I've never really understood the appeal of Australia. In many ways it just seems too similar to California and the Bay Area in particular--the climate, a famous bridge, the beaches, vineyards, a relationship to the Pacific, it's rough-and-tumble "pioneer" heritage, it's melting pot culture of immigrants. But reading my friend Lulu's posts about a recent trip to Sydney gave me a hint of what really makes Australia so special--a relaxed lifestyle in tune with nature. (Scroll down to mid February to read her posts here)

Bills Open Kitchen is a newly released cookbook from an Australian chef who owns several successful restaurants and cafes in Sydney. Like Australia itself, my guess is you will either love this book or fail to understand its appeal. The book is the chefs personal take on recipes of British, Italian, Indian, Asian and Mediterranean origins. One of the features of this cookbook that I really like is a sneak peak at the chefs cookbook shelf. This truly gives you a sense of his roots.

All the recipes are adapted to fit today's hectic pace. The cookbook should have been called "Bills Easy Kitchen". These are not all-day-in-the-kitchen recipes but rather make-something-wonderful-quick recipes, the kinds of things that the chef prepares for his own family at home. These recipes may offend the purist, but I find them refreshing. I am looking forward to making the the Greek Salad with Pan-fried Haloumi, the Chickpea Stew with Tomatoes and Green Chili, and the beautiful Pistachio Biscuits (cookies, really) Perhaps it's because of what Australia and California have in common that this book actually does appeal to me.